World

Bowing to the will of the new majority in parliament, Lebanon's president appointed a leading opponent of Syria to head the nation's government. Lebanon hasn't had such a government in 30 years. Former Finance Minister Fouad Siniora had the backing of all but two of the 128 lawmakers. He has pledged to carry out the reform and development programs of his close friend, Rafiq Hariri, the ex-prime minister who was assassinated in February.

A protest by thousands of people in Congo's capital against the delayed presidential election turned violent, as heavily armed police turned them back before they could reach parliament. Unconfirmed reports said as many as six people were killed. The rally was organized by the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress. Voting was to have been held Thursday, but early last month parliament extended the transitional government by one more year.

Beleaguered President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was scrambling to regain public trust in the Philippines, sending her controversial husband into exile and accepting the resignation of a cabinet minister who faces tax-evasion charges. Allies said she'd also purge others in her government who are perceived as being close to José Miguel Arroyo, her husband, who's accused to taking kickbacks from illegal gambling interests.

In a snub to the Roman Catholic Church, parliament in Spain voted 187-147 to legalize same-sex marriage, making the country the third in the world to do so. Canada's lower house of Parliament took the same action earlier in the week, although the bill still needs the upper house's OK. In Madrid, as opponents protested outside (above), Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called the vote "an answer to a group of people who for years have been humiliated." Homosexuality was banned in 1939 by dictator Francisco Franco. Pope Benedict XVI has condemned same-sex unions.

German Chancelor Gerhard Schröder was believed to be considering a strategy to lose Friday's vote of confidence in parliament on purpose - a key step in triggering the national election he says is necessary. Under that scenario, he'd ask legislators from his coalition to abstain from the vote, while arguing before President Horst Koehler that they no longer have the strength to govern despite their seven-seat majority in the legislature. If the no-confidence vote passes, Koehler has 21 days to decide whether a new election should be held.

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